The slumping New York Islanders don't play on the road until Jan. 29, but they're looking at a demanding five-game stretch at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders take that first step on Tuesday night when they host a New York Rangers club that is playing highly-disciplined hockey.
The Islanders (12-26-4) host their first game in 2009 after dropping four straight on a western trip that ended on Thursday with a 5-2 loss to Calgary. The Islanders, who own a league-low 28 points, have posted a 0-13-1 road record since defeating Montreal 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 24.
"No one likes to lose this many on the road," said Jeff Tambellini. "We have to find a way not just to be close in games, but to grit it out and find a way to get two points."
Although the Islanders are coming off back-to-back home wins against Toronto and Florida, upcoming games versus the more-than-likely playoff-bound Rangers followed by Boston, New Jersey, Washington and Anaheim should present a stiff challenge for a team that's won just twice since Nov. 29.
"Our team had a lot of mental errors," Islanders first-year coach Scott Gordon said after the loss to the Flames.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have been playing mistake-free recently.
In a 2-0 win over Ottawa on Saturday, the Rangers (25-15-4) snapped a two-game skid by allowing the Senators just three power plays. In their 2-1 shootout loss at Buffalo on Friday, the Rangers had no penalties in a game for the first time since Nov. 11, 1999.
"It's been one of the reasons we've been a little bit inconsistent this year is because of (our discipline)," said Rangers coach Tom Renney, whose club is 1-0-1 on its current five-game trip. "We might only be at the front end of that, but better late than never."
The Rangers are killing a league-best 87.7 percent of opponent's power plays in 2008-09. The Islanders, meanwhile, managed just one man-advantage goal in 11 opportunities during their road trip.
Henrik Lundqvist returned to his All-Star form on Saturday, making 33 saves to pick up his 19th career shutout and second in three starts.
"We've been very disciplined the past week or two, not taking too many penalties," said Lundqvist, who allowed five goals in his previous start - a 6-3 loss to Montreal on Wednesday. "It seems like we're more in control and winning more battles."
Lundqvist is 2-1-0 with a 2.71 GAA against the Islanders in the teams' three meetings this season. He's won seven of 11 career starts on Long Island, recording a 1.53 GAA.
Brandon Dubinsky scored his sixth goal of the season on Saturday - and first since Nov. 24 - as he punched in a rebound that ricocheted off teammate Lauri Korpikoski's chest.
"I've had chances and felt like I was playing well and making good shots but they weren't going in for me," Dubinsky said. "To have a gift like that is nice. Hopefully the floodgates will open and they'll start going in a little more now."
Dubinsky had two assists in the Rangers' last game against the Islanders, a 5-4 win on Dec. 29 at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have won three straight on the road in this series.